John Hope Franklin, one of the nation’s preeminent historians and a 1996 honorary degree recipient from Washington and Lee, died this week at age 94. His is an enormous loss. In its obituary the New York Times wrote that Franklin combined “idealism with rigorous research.” In the citation delivered when Franklin was awarded the doctor of humane letters degree at W&L, Franklin was praised for “having changed the way American scholars write about the history of race in the United States.” The citation went on to quote Franklin himself in the following passage: “I look history straight in the eye and call it like it is.” You can read the complete citation by downloading this pdf file. In a remembrance that you can hear in the audio below, W&L historian Ted DeLaney said that while Franklin trained as a Southern historian, he was pushed further into African-American history. “But,” DeLaney adds, “his life transcended that,” DeLaney said.
Listen to W&L’s Ted DeLaney on John Hope Franklin: